Call for planning reform for Metronet build

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Planning reform will be important in delivering the state’s Metronet housing package because many of the station are in different local authorities with different planning agendas, according to the Property Council of Australia WA.

THE property industry has welcomed an invitation from the McGowan Government to partner in the creation of higher density and more diverse housing in the proposed Metronet station precincts.

On Thursday, May 10 the government announced its Metronet social and affordable housing and jobs package and adopted the Railway (Metronet) Bill 2018, which will authorise the Yanchep rail extension – a project to extend the Joondalup line north of Butler station and construct three new stations at Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep.

It will also authorise the Thornlie-Cockburn link.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the project definition plans would be finished soon, with construction planned to start next year.

Property Council of Australia WA executive director Lino Iacomella said planning reform would be key to the success of the government’s plan to create higher density and more diverse housing in the proposed Metronet station precincts.

Mr Iacomella  said the Metronet social and affordable housing and jobs package answered questions from industry about how some of the more marginal station precincts would be established with a diversity of housing options.

He said the innovative housing package was a five-year program to construct 1390 social and affordable homes in eight higher density projects in Metronet precincts, including up to 320 new social housing dwellings and an additional 400 affordable homes, and deliver a further 670 homes for full market price sale.

“Linking the government’s public housing investment plan with Metronet and partnering with industry is a smart long-term move,’’ he said.

“This will provide industry with the confidence to invest in precincts where ordinarily the market is not ready to build higher density projects.

“Packaging the public-private Metronet precinct development plan in a state program will also help in creating an open dialogue with local communities about this innovative approach to achieving our infill and diverse housing objectives.

“Planning reform will be important in delivering the state’s Metronet housing package because many of the station locations are in different local authorities with different planning agendas.

“It’s crucial that the WA Government has a clear planning framework that applies to all of the precincts and ideally, the state leads the planning process in the precinct areas to ensure consistency.’’

Meanwhile, REIWA said it welcomed the government’s decision not to increase property taxes, but was disappointed the Budget did not include any new initiatives to address housing affordability or reinvigorate the property sector.

REIWA president Hayden Groves said the government had missed an opportunity to introduce measures to open doors in the property market for those who needed it most.

“We are particularly disappointed that the first home owner grant remains unfairly skewed towards new-build properties and that there is no transfer duty concession for seniors to enable them to ‘right size’ into more suitable accommodation,” he said.

The Housing Industry Association said it approved of changes in the Budget supporting removal of the exemption of the resources sector contributing to the construction training fund on engineering projects.

HIA WA executive director John Gelavis said the association was pleased to see the equitable contribution arrangement supported by government in the next year, indicating a swift change to regulation would follow.

“We are also pleased to have the backing of the government with the ongoing inclusion of the first home owners grant and associated stamp duty concessions in the forward estimates.’’

He said the investment in Metronet infrastructure and the $184 million committed towards a $394 million social and affordable housing and jobs package meant there were positive signs for jobs and training in the housing industry.

The state Opposition, the Property Council of Australia WA, REIWA and HIA all criticised the McGowan Government for increasing its new foreign investment tax from 4 per cent to 7 per cent.